October 1, 2019 / 11:50 AM / 16 days ago

Taliban kill 11 Afghan police, torch district headquarters

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban killed at least 11 police officers in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province before burning their headquarters, officials said on Tuesday.

The insurgent group’s attacks in Balkh’s Shortepa district started on Monday evening and carried into early Tuesday. After taking control of the police headquarters in the district in a gun battle, the Taliban set fire to it, said Munir Farhad, spokesman for Balkh’s provincial governor.

Afghan National Defence and Security Forces retook the police headquarters after reinforcements arrived.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group killed 30 police in the district. It posted a video online that it said depicted the police headquarters engulfed in flames, and guns that it had seized.

Afghan police have in recent years born the brunt of Taliban attacks and are one of their primary targets.

Fighting has remained intense in Afghanistan since U.S.-Taliban talks about withdrawing American troops collapsed last month. On Saturday, Taliban attacks and threats of violence scared away many voters from presidential election.

The Taliban have also clashed with Afghan forces in three districts of Takhar province since Saturday, and fighting continued on Tuesday in Baharak, one of the districts, said Jawad Hejri, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Taliban attacks in Balkh and Takhar provinces reflect the group’s effort to fortify its strength in the north, where it already holds a stronghold in Kunduz province.

Reporting by Matin Sahak in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan and Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul; Writing by Rod Nickel in Kabul; Editing by Peter Graff

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